How Alexis Tsipras and Syriza Outmaneuvered Angela Merkel and the Eurocrats


Slavoj Zizek in In These Times:

Varoufakis repeatedly made this point clear: what was needed to give the Greek economy a chance to rebound was not more borrowing but an overall re-haul. The first step in this direction would be an increase in the democratic transparency in regards to the exercise of power. Our democratically elected state apparatuses are increasingly impaired by both a network of “agreements” (TISA, etc.) and by non-elected “expert” bodies that wield the real economic (and military) power. Here is Varoufakis’s reporton an extraordinary moment in his dealings with Jeroen Dijsselbloem:

There was a moment when the President of the Eurogroup decided to move against us and effectively shut us out, and made it known that Greece was essentially on its way out of the Eurozone. … There is a convention that communiqués must be unanimous, and the President can’t just convene a meeting of the Eurozone and exclude a member state. And he said, “Oh I’m sure I can do that.” So I asked for a legal opinion. It created a bit of a kerfuffle. For about 5 to 10 minutes the meeting stopped, clerks, officials were talking to one another, on their phone, and eventually some official, some legal expert addressed me, and said the following words: “Well, the Eurogroup does not exist in law, there is no treaty which has convened this group.” So what we have is a non-existent group that has the greatest power to determine the lives of Europeans. It’s not answerable to anyone, given it doesn’t exist in law; no minutes are kept; and it’s confidential. So no citizen ever knows what is said within. … These are decisions of almost life and death, and no member has to answer to anybody.

Sounds familiar? Yes, to anyone who knows how Chinese power functions today. After Mao’s death, Deng Tsiao-Ping established a dual political system: the state apparatus and legal system are redoubled by the Party institutions which are literally extralegal—or, as He Weifang, a law professor from Beijing, put it:

As an organization, the Party sits outside, and above, the law. It should have a legal identity, in other words, a person to sue, but it is not even registered as an organization. The Party exists outside the legal system altogether.

It is as if, as Walter Benjamin put it , violence which sustains state power remains present, embodied in an organization with an unclear legal status.

More here.